Living on $4/Day For Food

“Service to others is the rent you pay for living on this planet.” Marian Wright Edelman

Last Saturday at the Chico Farmers Market, I was directed by a friend to check out a new booth. Standing around the paper filled table were four CSU, Chico students ready to tell me all about the Chico State Hunger Challenge going on this week. Now, I’m usually always up for a challenge, but when it was explained the challenge was to live off $4.00 a day for all my food and drink…I was a little hesitant. But, I signed up anyways.

As part of building awareness of California’s hunger problem, these students created a challenge for people to experience the life of someone who lives off food stamps. According to their statistics, “one in six Californians is hungry or at serious risk of hunger.” And the average amount that food stamp recipients have to spend on food is $4.00. Ask me at almost any time of the day and I’ll tell you I’m hungry, so I could easily fit into that statistic. But that’s simply because after working in the garden and exercising like I have been, I’m starving like all the time!

But joking definitely aside, this was a serious undertaking! An entire week! Only $4.00 a day for food! Are you kidding me?!

So here are the rules I must abide by this week:

  • Spend $4.00 per day for my entire food and drink budget
  • Do not accept free food from family, friends, or coworkers
  • If you have a garden, price out what you eat based on prices from the farmer’s market or grocery store
  • Share you experiences through their Facebook page and help to create more awareness

 

As of today, Tuesday, I’ve actually followed the rules.

Yesterday, I had fresh carrot juice in the morning, made a stir fry using food from the farmer’s market and grocery store (noodles, fresh spinach, sweet potatoes, coconut milk, garbanzo beans and curry spices), and snacked on almonds. This morning, I had yogurt with granola and fruit, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and will have left over stir fry for dinner. Surprisingly, it’s been fairly easy. Luckily, I had a decently stocked fridge to begin with from the market.

I’m not going to lie though, there have been a few hunger pains. Those damn french fries have called my name more than once (I’m still weaning myself off them and try to make sweet potato fries instead-almost there!). But, after reading through the packet of information the students gave me about the real issues of hunger in my state, I looked at my eating habits a little closer.

In my own county, 30.4% of adults live in food insecure households and one in four children are living in poverty. 60% of the State’s food stamp program, CalFresh are children.

Those are pretty sobering facts. What’s great about this challenge is the information they pass on like this. In the packet they handed out along with these statistics and information on CalFresh, there is a meal planner, a pretty thick recipe book and the new Buy Fresh, Buy Local Food Guide for the Northern Valley Region. I have in mind to try some of the recipes this week and do my best to complete this challenge.

So far, it’s really opened my mind further to the value I place on food and how easily I take for granted all the food I consume. This has made me grateful for the fact that not only can I afford to buy the food my body needs, but I have easy access to plenty of healthy and fresh foods.

I encourage you to finish out the week with me. Or at least try it for one day. See what happens. I’m sure you’ll think differently about what you eat and how you see those who are not as fortunate as you or I. Feel free to comment about your experiences!

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